20-11-2017

A few weeks ago I attended a two day SAP workshop about new features in SAP Cloud Platform Integration (CPI). In the two day workshop a small group of customers and partners were able to get first hand insight in new innovations in CPI. We also had the opportunity to discuss with SAP Product Management these innovations and deliver input on how we users are using CPI, what is good about it and where we would like to see improvements. 

CPI is formerly known as SAP HANA Cloud Platform Integration Service (HCI) and is the cloud integration solution of SAP. Apart from a development environment to build your own integration it contains a growing library of SAP managed standard integration solutions for connecting SAP Cloud solutions to on premise systems. CPI is getting more and more the standard option for connecting Public Cloud solutions like S/4HANA cloud applications to each other and to SAP On Premise solutions.

What did I learn from this workshop? Of course a lot about items on the CPI road map, but I won’t bore you with a long technical list of enhancements. Instead I want to share with you the key takeaways which came to mind on my drive home from Walldorf.

New functionality and improvements

Of course I was happy to see a lot of new functionality and improvements during the workshop. SAP took a daring step to start from scratch to build a new integration solution specifically for the cloud. Well, not totally from scratch, they used Apache Camel as a basis to develop their own solution. But as a result of this step it did not contain everything you would expect right from the start in 2013. Fortunately SAP is really committed to improve the product. New functionality and fixes are rolled out on a monthly basis to all CPI tenants. SAP guarantees these rollouts have no effect on running integration solutions, so you don’t have to worry it will affect your critical processes after one of the rollouts.

If you need more reassurance it is possible to let SAP do automated regression tests on your CPI processes and deliver a report on the results to you. This is a great advantage of the cloud based CPI: new functionality and fixes rolled on a monthly basis, without any effort for the customer.

It is not SAP PO in the cloud

When someone asks “What is CPI?”, an easy answer is “It’s SAP PI or PO in the cloud”, but this not true. Of course CPI has the same purpose as SAP PO, but it is a completely different product and that is a good thing. It is not that I think SAP PO is not good, on the contrary, it’s a product which is very good in doing what it is made for. But the initial design of the product was many years ago when the ideas about IT and integration were totally different. Designing and creating an interface in PO means designing several objects in the ESR, Enterprise Service Repository, which are combined together into an interface in the run time part in the Integration Directory. Following design guidelines and naming convention is is of the most importance to keep all those objects and interfaces under control. Or in short, for the sake of governance, maintenance etc. there’s a lot of overhead when creating an interface in SAP PO.

CPI is different, an interface is made by creating an iFlow and drawing an interface from start to finish in one screen using a BPMN-like flow. CPi is totally designed for this age of digital transformation where quickly building solutions and adopt to changing situations in an agile environment is most important. By starting anew, instead of porting SAP PO, SAP had the opportunity to build an integration solution fit for the current digital age.

New Challenges

When you consider to incorporate SAP Cloud Platform Integration in to your digital landscape it will introduce new challenges. One of them is learning a new tool. I think SAP managed to create a tool which should be easy to learn for experienced PO consultants. An other important question is if this product is mature enough to use it for our most critical integration scenarios. In my opinion it is, but there’s still room for improvements. Fortunately SAP is organising sessions like the one I was attending, where people who are using CPI in the field can give their honest opinion, and work together with SAP Product Management to address the main items SAP should work on.

But I think the main challenges when considering CPI are in the area of deciding when to use it, in which situation. And will it be used together with SAP PO (or other on-prem middleware)? Shall I migrate all my integration to CPI, or use CPI only in specific cases? It is possible to design your interfaces in CPI and deploy them to your on-prem instance of SAP PO, is that the way to go? Questions which actually can only be answered by looking at your own integration landscape and see how this cloud solution fits in. So when you are in doubt how CPI fits in to your IT landscape and could use some help, contact me so we can share some ideas.